There is yet another reason for diabetes patients to stay fit, researchers say. People with diabetes who regained lost weight forfeited their lowered risk for stroke and heart disease, a Tufts University study has found.

Investigators analyzed cardiometabolic risk in 1,600 people who initially lost at least 3% of their body weight. They found that participants who lost 10% or more and then maintained 75% or more of that weight loss for at least four years saw a significant improvement in risk factors. This included improved HDL cholesterol levels, triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure, waist circumference and diabetes control. But the benefits disappeared in those who regained the weight.

The takeaway is that maintaining the majority of weight loss is essential to reducing cardiovascular risk, said senior study author Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc.  

“In addition to focusing on weight loss, an increased emphasis should be placed on the importance of maintaining the weight loss over the long-term,” she concluded.

Even modest weight loss of 5% to 7% of body weight is known to reduce factors that raise cardiac disease risk in people with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. In addition, people who lose 10% of their body weight may double the odds of achieving type 2 diabetes remission within the first five years of a diabetes diagnosis, McKnight’s has reported.

Study findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.